China's Wanda Cinema Sees Revenues Surge 33 Percent in 2014

Wang Jianlin Dalian Wanda Chairman H

The freshly listed cinema chain owned by China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, welcomed 102 million moviegoers last year.

China's largest cinema operator, Wanda Cinema Line, notched a 32.7 percent increase in operating revenues to $868 million last year, lifted by the country's simmering movie sector.

The cinema operator is a subsidiary of the real estate giant Dalian Wanda group, which in 2012 bought North America's second-biggest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, for $2.6 billion. Wanda Cinema is involved in cinema construction, film distribution and screening and related business such as advertising.

The group is 68 percent owned by Wanda Investment, of which China's wealthiest man, Wang Jianlin owns 98 percent.

The group said it expected competition to increase in the sector, and it also warned that a lack of major blockbusters, especially homegrown movies, could cast a shadow over the business. The group said the domestic movie business was still at an embryonic stage.

Box office revenue accounted for $620 million last year, marking the sixth successive year that Wanda has registered the biggest box office in China, while net profit in the year was $129 million, also up 32.7 percent.

During the year, Wanda opened 40 new cinemas for a total of 369 screens, bringing its total by the end of the last year to 182 cinemas and 1,616 screens.

"Chinese people are developing a habit of watching movies in cinemas, propelling the fast development of theater chains," the group said in its financial report.

Wanda Cinema had 102 million moviegoers last year, for a market share of 14.2 percent, the biggest of China's 48 theater chains nationwide.

By the end of last year, China had 23,600 screens, and it is expected to become the world's biggest cinema market at some point in the next few years.

The figures came in Wanda Cinema Line's first financial report since it went public in January.

A big boost came from online ticket sales.

In August the group said it was spending $1.2 billion to develop its Hollywood presence after it won a bid for a plot of land at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, for the HQ of its U.S. entertainment business.